This is another one of my Bay Area Brunch on the go recommendations in the most unlikely of places: Westfield Mall. Typically I avoid this madhouse on the weekends but when I was there recently I found a most delicious discovery.
I was headed to BART when the inconspicuous and cute little Bloem ‘n Sugar shop caught my eye. ‘Course I couldn’t resist. It is in the lower level of the older portion of Westfield Mall so unless you are headed to BART, easy to miss. And that would be oh so sad for you!
Just because you’re busy, doesn’t mean you can’t brunch!
On a recent Saturday, I was running errands and was short on time so a Bay Area Brunch on the go was in order. For only a bit of cash and a short wait, you can have delicious dim sum from where else? Delicious Dim Sum.
Ask and ye shall receive.
The Fried Chicken is probably my favorite thing at Maverick but it’s not on the brunch menu per se. However, if you ask nicely you just might be blessed by the Maverick Fried Chicken Fairy.
I knew my Bay Area Brunch buddies would want to get in on this brunch action so I ordered 3 pieces for sharing. The leg, wing, and thigh pieces were as crunchy, flavorful, and moist as I had remembered. The Shoestring Fries that came alongside were so crispy they nearly shattered between my chomping teeth. My kind of fries! Especially with house made ketchup and hot sauce for dipping.
Easter means different things to different people.
Chocolate bunnies and jellybeans.
Hunky Jesus contests.
But for me, it means brunch! (Surprise, surprise.)
J and I decided on Mill Valley’s beloved Buckeye Roadhouse for an impromptu Easter brunch. It has been around for years so J was a Buckeye veteran and I was a newbie. However, I had been meaning to check it out especially since I remember that it had been on The Chronicle’s Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants a few years ago.
Parking was a breeze thanks to complimentary valet parking and soon we made our way up a pretty winding walkway that had lush greenery on either side. We were quickly seated in the main dining area where we could see this gorgeous patio outside. The decor definitely reminded me of a hunting lodge thanks to the large fireplace on the first floor and the big mounted deer head peering at me from the second floor. Although it was 2:30pm, the room was still bustling with lots of families getting their Easter brunch on. There were cute decorations on each table for the occasion.
We started out with coffee and it passed muster with J. He’s a bit picky when it comes to his coffee and refills were plentiful. The bread on the table was so warm and fresh, I wondered if it was made in house. Our server said that the bread was brought in but finished in house. The exterior was nice and crispy and the interior was chewy and soft.
While it was hard not to fill up on bread, I had some Beignets that I needed to save room for! They are probably one of the Buckeye’s most famous items and they are even set apart on the menu. You get five beignets and they aren’t very large but they tasted fine and were dusted with powdered sugar. They come with homemade strawberry jam and a crazy delicious coffee creme anglaise.
Steps for a tasty grab-n-go East West Bay Area Brunch:
1) Go to Out the Door at the Ferry Building.
2) Grab one of Justine’s Scones.
I have no idea who Justine is but she makes a damn fine scone filled with black currants and lemon zest that is even better when slathered in lemon curd ($2.75). It’s only offered Friday through Sunday though. Also, it’s a great alternative when the lines at Acme Bread get crazy long.
3) Grab some of the Steamed Chicken, Veggie, and Pork Buns.
They are $3 a piece which is a bit spendy for a bun but hey this is the Ferry Building so that is to be expected. I think it’s worth it since the quality of the ingredients are so high. Recently I had the Veggie one which was filled with mushrooms, cabbage, water chestnuts, and vermicelli noodles. I’m a fan of the Chicken Bun too.
Sometimes I want brunch food after 3pm.
Now this is a problem since most Bay Area Brunch places are closed by then, even the “breakfast all day” places. Luckily, I remembered that one time I went to The Grove Fillmore and they hooked me up with a Breakfast Burrito for a late dinner. (Yes, THIS is the kind of stuff that I remember.)
The Grove Fillmore now serves the Breakfast Burrito till 4pm (along with other items like French Toast, Granola, Oatmeal and other Egg dishes). Make your own Omelettes and Scrambles are available all day though and of course they have lots of brunch beverages like coffee made from Verve Coffee Roasters in Santa Cruz, freshly squeezed OJ, mimosas, and bloody marys.
The coffee was just ok (wish it was stronger) but the Breakfast Burrito was as ginormous as I had remembered. It was pretty basic: filled with eggs, refried beans, cheeses, avocado, salsa, and crispy hash browns. Unfortunately, the eggs looked and tasted processed to me like egg beaters but the salsa of tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and a little jalapeno was definitely fresh and homemade. The hash brown bits were nice and crispy, if only there were more!
Pizza is great any time of the day. So why not for a Bay Area brunch?
A veteran pizza nosher, I’ve had many different versions of the egg on pizza thang with mixed results. However, Cotogna‘s version of brunchy pizza has set the bar sky high. Cotogna is closed on Sundays but they have a brunch on Saturday. And wisely, pizza is featured on all their menus (lunch, dinner, and brunch). We actually tried it at dinner time and like places that have breakfast all day, I was all about it.
There were 3 pizzas offered, all $15. We picked the one with with Ramps, Guanciale, Egg and Pecorino Romano and according to one of the staff, it is a very popular item.
Can you see why? *cue pizza porn music*
The wood burning pizza oven is a focal point of the room and stacks of wood are at the door and in the hallways leading towards the bathrooms in the back. All this for a pizza? Damn straight! I was amazed at how perfectly round the pizza was. I have tried making pizza and usually the pizza comes out kind of amoeba shaped with varying levels of thickness throughout. The crust on this one was perfect: thin in the middle with a nice amount of crust that was chewy and flavorful.
Me: What’s your favorite thing at Half Day Cafe?
J: Cinnamon Roll.
Me: Besides the Cinnamon Roll.
J: The other Cinnamon Rolls.
Muffin and scones are common brunch fare but why doesn’t the Cinnamon Roll get more Bay Area Brunch pastry love? All of Half Day Cafe’s baked goods are freshly made in house and the Cinnamon Roll is one of our favorites. It has just the right amount of sweetness thanks to cinnamon, different types of raisins, bits of pecans, and a drizzle (not merciless drowning) of icing. I’m also addicted to their huge Lemon Blueberry Scones with loaded of blueberries. Don’t be fooled by the healthy sounding Bran Muffins as they are super sweet and probably my least favorite pastry item here.
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Tagged breakfast all day, cinnamon roll, egg, eggs benedict, half day cafe, kid friendly, larkspur, marin, no reservations, north bay, outdoor dining, scone, scramble
First Awakenings is known for their pancakes.
However, I didn’t realize they were the size of hubcaps! Talk about a Man v. Food Bay Area Brunch Day Trip moment.
J ordered up the Triple Bogey. In golf, this isn’t a great thing but for brunch it is definitely a win consisting of 2 eggs (nicely cooked over easy), bacon or sausage (he had one of each), and toast or PANCAKE. There are about 9 types of pancakes to choose from and the blueberry one was chock full of blueberries as was the syrup that came with it. You could definitely tell that it was homemade. I’m not much of a pancake person but I wanted more! However, J is an experienced defensive eater and his plate was empty in record time.
Does afternoon tea at Crown & Crumpet count as a Bay Area Brunch?
Well one tier of our tea service looked like this:
Scones are one of my favorite breakfast pastries and Crown & Crumpet makes great ones. The one I tried had dried cherries in it and was even better slathered with lemon curd, clotted cream, and jam. (I tried ’em all of course. I am the Triple Crown winner (loser?) of Scone Condiments.) This was my first time trying a crumpet which reminded me of a thinner, buttery, chewy English muffin. I’m sticking to scones but kudos to you crumpet for having a sport named after you.
The top tier of our tea service looked like this: